Mar 16, 2016

Preview the New iPad with a 3D Printed Dummy

Youtube Blogger reverse engineers new iPad design using a leaked case, providing clues to the latest hardware Apple will launch on 21 March.

UPDATE 21/3: The same source has 3D printed a dummy of the new iPhone SE, again based on a leaked case, though the insights provided are much less interesting.

Apple will be showing some new products at their press event on 21 March, and a new iPad Air is speculated to be one of them. The company hasn’t updated the current generation 9.7-inch iPad for a good long while, presumably to focus the spotlight on the more recently launched iPad Pro.

Rumors of the new hardware specs for the iPad Air 3 have been percolating through the technology press, but YouTube blogger Techsmart went one even better. Getting his grubby mitts on a case he believes was designed for the next iPad, he carefully 3D scanned it for exact dimensions. Then, with a reverse casting of the 3D model, he was able to put together an approximation of the size and shape of the new iPad.

The next step was to fire up his 3D printer and create a physical replica, with carefully reproduced dimensions and controls in the final result. The only creative liberty which Techsmart took was to print the iPad in a vivid shade of Ferrari red. There’s no way the designers at Apple would be that crass. Or would they…?

New Features for New iPad, according to 3D Dummy

Based on the 3D printed dummy, it appears the next iPad will have several key hardware improvements.

Smart connector: This first appeared in the iPad Pro, and Apple are now porting it over to the standard iPad. This will allow it to work directly with accessories like keyboards, and implies that Apple will release a custom keyboard for the new iPad as it did with the iPad Pro.

Four speakers: Another innovation that first appeared in the iPad Pro, which gave the unit a better quality audio system. The speakers may have to be smaller because of the size of the smaller iPad, but it looks like another trickle-down feature from the iPad Pro.

Flash camera: This one is a bit of a leap, based on a cutout in the case next to the camera lens. Even though taking photos with a tablet is one of the stupidest things you could ever possibly do, especially in public, it appears that Apple expects and encourages their loyal customers to continue doing so.

In all other respects, the 3D printed dummy shows that the exterior of the new iPad Air will be very much like the current generation iPad Air 2, with what the same measurements as the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2.

How did Techsmart achieve his scoop? Apple often provides information to case makers in advance, so third-party cases are ready to be sold when a new device is launched. There’s a good chance that the case in his possession is the real deal.

But then again, it could all be an elaborate hoax. We’ve had our fingers burned with stories like these recently, so please excuse our skepticism. In any case, we’ll shortly learn whether Apple has any big surprises in just under a week.

License: The text of "Preview the New iPad with a 3D Printed Dummy" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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